Last Friday night, Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, former novelist, currently a columnist for Rupert Murdoch (she took the trouble to praise Murdoch highly when she was an MP and the Murdochs were being investigated by Parliament for phone-hacking) – came unstuck in her hashtag-related attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn when she confused Twitter’s autocomplete function with Google’s autocomplete function.
Google’s autocomplete function, while targeted towards you based on your location and search history, gives you an idea of what other people are searching on.
Twitter’s autocomplete function simply remembers your own previous searches. Louise Mensch had been searching Twitter for references to Liz Kendall (@LizForLeader) combined with “zionist”, “nazi”, “jewish”, “jews”.
When Mensch noticed this coming up in her Twitter autocomplete, she concluded the only reason someone would be doing this kind of search was because they were an anti-Semitic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. She therefore screenshotted this and posted it on Twitter – to have it pointed out to her that she was condemning her own search history as a “sewer”.
Twitter's autocomplete on Liz Kendall MP. This is the sewer that is Jeremy Corbyn's support. pic.twitter.com/H7gAQWkfGa
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 21, 2015
Louise Mensch appears to have been infuriated and embarrassed by her own very public ineptitude.
She wanted – and evidently got – the Guardian to change their original headline from “Louise Mensch’s bid to smear Jeremy Corbyn campaign backfires” to “Louise Mensch takes Twitter swipe at Corbyn campaign – and hits herself”.
I have made no such “bid”. The above tweet is absolutely false. @guardian
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 22, 2015
I’m sorry for the long pre-amble. You probably clicked on this expecting an instant takedown of Louise Mensch’s more ridiculous smears.
A blogpost that takes 24 hours to write, even fuelled by coffee and embarrassment, can take longer to carefully debunk.
I intend to post these as a series of reports on Mensch’s lengthy blog at unfashionista.com, which she posted at 9:49pm on 22nd August 2015, or just over 25 hours since her embarrassing and very public stumble over Twitter’s autocomplete and her self-identified sewer of a search history at 8:16 PM on 21st August 2015.
Smear #1: Corbyn said it was hard for Syrians to choose between ISIS and the USA
Well, no, he didn’t, and Louise Mensch knew he didn’t: she quoted him saying something different and then framed it in distorting style.
On 28th March 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed in the House of Commons on “Economic Reform and the BRICS Process” by an Australian political nicroparty, Citizens Electoral Council of Australia. (Corbyn doesn’t get to speak til 10:22 in the video: he looks politely bored throughout most of the interviewer’s rather discursive introduction.)
The video was made for “Panel 1: Views from the UK” for CEC Australia’s annual conference. Corbyn appears in the same session as Michael Meacher, Labour MP For Oldham West & Royton, and Robert Oulds, Conservative Councillor for Chiswick Homefields ward in Brentford and Islesworth and Director of the Bruges Group.
CEC Australia reported having 549 members in 2007, and has never got more than 2% of the vote in any election it’s stood a candidate in. At federal-level elections CEC Australia gets less than 0.4% percent of the national vote (and Australia has compulsory voting). According to their page on Wikipedia, out of the 95 electorates in which the CEC were represented, they came last in 80 of them. Since 1992, CEC Australia have been affiliated with the La Rouche movement, which is described in a Washington Monthly feature in 2007 as “a vast and bizarre vanity press.” To call CEC Australia a threat would be rather like taking the Above And Beyond Party seriously as an electoral challenge.
I will say there is absolutely no reason why anyone in the UK should ever have heard of CEC Australia: but also that had Corbyn, Meacher, or Oulds looked this microparty up in Wikipedia before they were interviewed, they would have found that while CEC Australia are a microparty without electoral success, whose politics are so muddled that Wikipedia can’t decide if they’re far right or far left, they are affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche, whose speciality was production of huge quantities of glossy but unread material, lots of armed bodyguards and, er, mail fraud. (He was in jail from 1989 to 1994 and on parole til 2004.) Also, he’s a Quaker.
Louise Mensch describes Australian CEC as ” a group of antisemitic conspiracy theorists”.
I’m unclear where she gets that from: it’s fairly well documented that Lyndon LaRouche is certainly an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist. LaRouche also believes the Queen is ultimately responsible for drug-running in the Commonwealth because she knows it’s going on, once ran a campaign advocating that classical orchestras should return to the “Verdi pitch” (which was fixed by Giuseppe Verdi in 1884: A at 432 Hz) and denounced nuclear winter as a hoax promoted by the USSR to weaken the US. It’s hard to believe there could be an American with politics more absurd than Donald Trump, but there he is.
The CEC Australia’s current manifesto or “Fighting Platform” as they call it, is on the front page of their website: screenshot here. I don’t see examples of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in their manifesto, though I note that they regard Australia’s racial vilification laws as “fascist”.
Louise Mensch summarises this interview in the opening part of her blog as:
He said it was hard for Syrians to have to choose sides between the “rather shadowy leadership of ISIS” and the “more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West who are propping up the government [of Iraq].” (18:40) Corbyn said this was ‘not a happy position to be’ in. Syrians were:
“stuck between a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government [of Iraq]…… it’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq”
The actual full quote is:
stuck between a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government that’s selling off their oil resources very cheaply – it’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq.
You are free to find it significant that Louise Mensch carefully omitted any reference to Iraq’s oil and the selling of it.
I think that CEC Australia are absurd: I think that Lyndon LaRouche is worse than absurd.
Louise Mensch asks “Why did Jeremy Corbyn talk to them?” (She doesn’t ask why Michael Meacher or Robert Oulds would talk to them, but as Meacher isn’t running for Labour party leadership and Oulds is a Conservative, I presume she doesn’t care.)
I think Corbyn, Meacher, and Oulds all agreed to be interviewed because, well: a speaking engagement is a speaking engagement, especially one that can be completed on your lunch hour (you can hear Big Ben strike one during Corbyn’s interview).
Louise Mensch notes that “at 21:30, the interviewer says the organization had links with Corbyn from 2013 over Glass-Steagall” and references “it was such an extraordinary debate on the floor of the House of Commons”.
Mensch says “To me this implies a CEC member sat in the Gallery as Corbyn’s guest and listened.”
Two words, Louise. Hansard. Parliament TV. (Okay, that’s three.)
To me, the CEC interviewer’s comment suggests that they listened to the debate on TV, then decided they would come to the UK and interview one, some, or all of the participants: the title of the video is “Views from the UK: Panel 1”.
Louise Mensch demands to know how they got in:
What is the excuse for this? How can Corbyn have brought La Rouche supporters into our Parliament? What due diligence was done? How long as he been involved with them? La Rouche is a barking mad holocaust denier.
If Louise Mensch had checked the UK Parliament website, she would have discovered:
Parliament is open to all UK and overseas visitors to attend debates, watch committee hearings or take a tour inside one of the world’s most iconic buildings.
So my question is: How can Louise Mensch have worked in the Palace of Westminster as an MP from 6th May 2010 to 29th August 2012 and not have known that the House of Commons is open to the public – including to overseas visitors? How can she have remained so unaware of the purpose of the cameras in the Commons chamber that she actually thinks you have to be sitting in the Strangers’ Gallery to watch a debate?
Also, Mensch appears to believe that some special request to an MP is required to watch a debate from the Strangers’ Gallery, but in fact – as again, she could have easily found out from the Parliament website – Australian and Canadian citizens may apply either to their country’s High Commission in London or to the London office of their province or state to get cards of admission.
Now, Louise Mensch is undoubtedly a very self-centred person with very limited areas of interest. I find it curiously plausible that she genuinely didn’t know that anyone can get into the House of Commons just by queuing, and that she had never bothered to find out how a person gets to watch a debate from the Strangers’ Gallery. (I do find it hard to believe that she never noticed the TV cameras in the Commons, but perhaps she just assumes that no one ever watches them.)
But what follows is Louise Mensch outright lying – assuming she watched the video at all.
Mensch claims she is giving “Corbyn’s insane, full quote to these cult fantasists”:
but also some sort of process where [Iraqis and Syrians] can feel a sense of security in their lives rather than being stuck between a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more open and obvious leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government that’s selling off their oil resources very cheaply – it’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq.
Mensch isn’t giving Corbyn’s full quote. At sixteen minutes plus, the interviewer asks Corbyn, partly quoting him and partly paraphrasing, that Corbyn’s said military force has to be used against ISIS, but that “there has to be a concerted pressure on ISIS funding and sources of arms, because that’s the key to it all.”
This is Corbyn’s full quote, starting 16.52:
“ISIS is very well funded … and very well resourced, and quite well organised, and it appears to be emanating as much from the huge supply of Western weaponry into the Gulf region. Think of the amount of arms sales that have gone into Saudi Arabia, two billion dollars worth of arms through the [name at 17:16] arms contract alone to Saudi Arabia. British base now being constructed in Bahrein, first one for many many years, expansion eastwards, and arms sales to UAE, Bahrein, Qatar, all across the *coughs* place. And ISIS forces that control parts of Iraq, where did they come from? They come from the deliberate break-up of the Iraqi army after the invasion, they come from the looseness of weapons supply in Iraq at the time, so to some extent it’s a reassertion of the old Baathist regime in Iraq, because they were never included in any post-invasion process, and we need to examine that in some detail. But we also need to examine the funding issues, because they’re selling oil, quite clearly, and that money is being processed somewhere.
“Which Western banks are involved in transferring that?”
“HSBC got done over transferring vast amounts of drug-related money in Mexico. Who’s going to get done over for all this ISIS money that’s floating around?”
“And so, I would look at it two ways: one is, to cut off this supply of arms and money that ISIS developed, but also, some sort of process that the people in Iraq and Syria feel a sense of security, in their lives, rather than being stuck in a war between the rather shadowy leadership of ISIS and the more obvious and open leadership of the USA and the West in propping up the government that’s selling off the oil resources very cheaply.
“It’s not a happy position to be if you’re a poor person stuck anywhere in Syria or Iraq.”
At no point does Jeremy Corbyn say that Syrians and Iraqis have to choose. He says that they are stuck.
At no point does Corbyn compare ISIS to America and the West. Indeed, as Louise Mensch presumably noticed when she selectively quoted from the video, most of what Corbyn’s saying is about how ISIS’s funds and their supply of weapons has to be cut off: he’s talking about investigating Western banks for oil money from ISIS.
Louise Mensch goes on to say:
It is utterly sickening that Corbyn could compare ISIS to America and the West in any way at all – much less draw an equivalence between them or say Syrians and Iraqis aren’t in a happy position when they have to choose.
It is sickening that Louise Mensch listened to Jeremy Corbyn discussing how ISIS could and should be contained, by finding out where they’re getting their funding, and created from it a false quote in which she claims that Corbyn is setting up an “equivalence” between ISIS and the US.
It’s Breitbart tactics; Mensch, though providing the full video, is relying on people not doing more than confirming Corbyn did say more or less what she said at the point in the video she’s indicated in her blog.
Louise Mensch is trying to present herself as merely taking up the attack against Jeremy Corbyn because she is outraged by his association with anti-Semites.
But given this particular attack, shouldn’t we ask: is she really just attacking Corbyn because she believes he’s associating with anti-Semites? (And if so, why didn’t she call out Dan Hodges, who called a Corbyn supporter a “useful Jewish idiot”? – or indeed Michael Meacher and Robert Oulds, who were on the same video panel?) Why did she so completely edit out what Corbyn was saying about strangling off the oil money for ISIS?
Partly it may be that Louise Mensch belongs to the gentry class: she is a British Conservative (and seems to be rapidly becoming an American Republican): and as Avedon Carol noted of the HSBC money laundering in December 2012, the law doesn’t treat banks the way it does ordinary people who get mixed up in the drug trade. Even when “the laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space.”
The US is threatening sanctions and using missiles to destroy illicit oil refineries. Corbyn’s proposal of getting at ISIS’s money supplies from the other end – investigating Western banks to find out where the money is being laundered – may not be as flashy, but also doesn’t involve this:
Hundreds of smaller scale refineries are spread across swathes of insurgent-held land, making it difficult to hit them. They continue to refine the bulk of crude extracted, according to experts and traders.
The refineries included the one run by trader Mazen Mukhtar, who said his was destroyed by a U.S. Tomahawk missile this week in a direct hit, turning his family’s life savings into a heap of mangled metal and burnt crude oil.
The mini refinery, that used primitive distillation and heating methods, cost him around $20,000 to build in a waste plot several kilometers away from his home. The Islamic State-run oil wells that supply it have been untouched.
“Why are they destroying our livelihood…do they want to throw our children to the street to start begging?”
As Andrew Tabler, a senior expert on Syria at the Washington Institute, observed: “Our options are limited unless you hit the wells – but it does not just hit Islamic State, it hits the entire population and that is not something that the U.S. can do very easily. It’s a good example of the constraints of trying to bomb your way out of it.”
Jeremy Corbyn suggests going after the banks who are laundering the money instead: and that’s something Louise Mensch carefully, precisely, avoids mentioning at all.